Tag Archives: Christian music

Kari Jobe: Where I Find You

24 Jan

Note from Amy:  While I’m working on my DaySpring review, editing a post that will appear later this week, and gathering material for Friday Faves, I hope you enjoy this article by my friend, Christa Banister, about Kari Jobe.  Kari is an incredibly talented artist whose dynamic voice really packs a punch.  And I should note that Christa, who has contributed to BSW before, did not write this article exclusively for BSW!

Kari Jobe: Where I Find You

By Christa Banister  After being established as one of the industry’s premier worship leaders with her Dove Award-winning, self-titled debut, Kari Jobe continues to serve as a worship pastor at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, and will release her highly anticipated follow-up album, Where I Find You (Sparrow) on January 24, 2012.

Produced by Ed Cash (Chris Tomlin, Chris August) and Matt Bronleewe (Natalie Imbruglia, Josh Wilson), Where I Find You, which includes Kari’s new hit radio single “We Are,” is an engaging departure from her previous effort—both sonically and thematically speaking.

Rather than simply emphasizing the beauty found in God’s presence, Where I Find You is a clarion call for listeners to experience His presence to the fullest. And not surprisingly, the accompanying soundtrack is just as bold with a buoyant mix of fresh musical textures and timbres.

“After singing about the importance of making time for intimate worship on my first album, I wanted to take the next step on Where I Find You,” Kari shares. “These songs come from such a honest place of praising God for what He’s done—and what He’s continuing to do in our lives—because of His grace and goodness.

“Ultimately, it’s about declaring who He is and enjoying the simplicity of knowing the Lord is near,” she continues. “He’s for us, He loves us, and sometimes, we need to just stop, enjoy His presence and take that in.”

While recording the album, Kari says she was often reminded of that very truth—a theme that resonates through the lyrics of “Here,” a reminder to press pause, even when our culture insists we constantly keep moving.

“There were many instances when we had to stop whatever we were working on because I needed to go outside, take a walk and have my own time with God for a few minutes,” Kari remembers. “Again and again, I was so overtaken by how present He was while we were recording, and it’s my hope and desire that people really feel the strength and intercession that was taking place while I worked on the album.”

Another decidedly counter-cultural idea that resonates in these new songs is how God never lets believers, including worship leaders, get too comfortable in their faith or permanently reside on the proverbial spiritual mountaintop.

“This past year has been the season of being completely uncomfortable and going through things I didn’t understand that were really hard,” Kari shares. “I was literally having to hold on in my heart and trust He had everything in control. You can even hear that a little in my vocals, especially on songs like ‘Love Came Down,’ ‘Run To You,’ and ‘What Love Is This.’ It was a season that stretched me.”

Even through all the growing pains, however, Kari says she was continually reminded of God’s faithfulness.

“I think there are times as believers when we feel entitled and that life shouldn’t be hard. We live in this culture of convenience that says we can do everything ourselves and find all the answers on Google,” Kari says. “But if we can learn to fall more in love with the Lord and trust Him in the middle of every storm, we build our endurance to keep running the race.”

Naturally, these declarations of God’s faithfulness couldn’t help but make their way onto her album.

“‘We Are’ is a song of commission for us as believers,” says Kari, “to be reminded of what we’ve been called to, and that is to impact people’s lives in everything we do.”

In the track “One Desire,” which she co-wrote with Jason Ingram, Kari uses simple, heartfelt language that reminds her of one of her favorite worship anthems when she was young.

“During our writing session, Jason and I were talking about the simplicity of worship; how it doesn’t always have to be so ornate,” she explains.  “When I was a kid, I remember how much I loved singing the song ‘I Love You, Lord’ because it was this sweet, simple song straight from Scripture.”

In stark contrast to the straightforward worship of “One Desire,” another key track, the aforementioned “What Love is This,” features powerful imagery of the Centurion soldier’s reaction to discovering that Jesus was the Son of God after He’d been crucified.

“I often think about what it would’ve been like to experience that and to say ‘Truly, you are the son of God,’” Kari shares. “You realize you were part of His death, you were the one of the people who’d nailed Him to a cross. He must have felt so incredibly broken—to believe the lie and then experience the truth. I really think that’s like all of us. We’ve got to have the perspective that without the Lord’s presence, we’re all in darkness, and ‘What Love Is This’ is my love song to the Lord for His love song for my life.”

Also serving as a grounding force for Kari when life gets complicated is her tight-knit Texas family. Although she turned 30 this past year, she still considers being a daughter one of “life’s greatest blessings.”     

What’s also been a blessing is a new dimension to her ministry. In addition to ministering in churches, arenas, theaters, festivals and conferences across the globe, Kari has also found another outlet for sharing God’s love in partnering with the A21 Campaign, an organization dedicated to abolishing human trafficking in the 21st century.

“I’ve become really invested in that ministry and strongly believe that we all have to play a role and do our part to fight against the modern form of slavery that affects 27 million people and growing,” Kari says. “It’s so incredibly dark, and I feel a responsibility to do what I can. Most of these victims are girls like me, and I can’t imagine what life would be like to be stuck in that place.”

Along with her sister, Kris, Kari has created an exclusive line of jewelry and t-shirts where all the proceeds go to the cause of bringing an end to human trafficking and injustice.

“Whether I’m participating in an effort like this or leading worship, it’s all about making a difference,” Kari concludes. “That’s the reason I’m doing what I’m doing at this specific moment—to see God’s name lifted high, to encourage the hurt and the broken and to remind everyone to draw close to Him because He really, truly does care about each and every one of His children.”

And that’s ultimately the message behind Where I Find You, enjoying the beauty of God’s presence, praising him with your whole heart and letting your light shine in a world that needs to experience the true grace and hope found only in Jesus.

For more information on Kari Jobe and her ministry, please visit www.karijobe.com.

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I am LOVED by Plumb!!!

3 Dec

Look! Look!  I’m loved by Plumb!  And not just “loved” but “hearted”!

Lately, I’ve been overwhelmed (in a good way) by the exciting things happening in the Christian music world–the undeading of my beloved Five Iron Frenzy, Jason Gray’s “Remind Me Who I Am” hitting #1 on iTunes (don’t forget to enter the giveway!), discovering that my buddy Josh Wilson’s song “I Refuse” is on WOW Hits 2012 (I told him on Twitter that my dad used to get me WOW Hits for Christmas every year when I was younger.  I can just picture a younger “Amy” getting that album and discovering the awesomeness that is Josh Wilson!), AAAAND listening to Plumb’s AMAZING rendition of “What Child Is This.” (Seriously, go “like” Plumb on Facebook, get these Christmas songs, and win me, I mean, you, a Kindle Fire!)

I thought things couldn’t get better, unless a Kindle Fire or iPad arrived at my doorstep, but they did get MUCH better because Plumb (Tiffany…do I call her Plumb or Tiffany?  Are we now Twitter friends?  P-Tiff?  Plumb-T?  Your highness? Plumb/Tiffany, if you read this you gotta let me know how to refer to you!) posted a picture of herself holding a sign saying that she loves (hearts really) Backseat Writer.  If that’s not a celebrity endorsement, I don’t know what is!  (So I know you won’t mind at all when I post it on my sidebar under “Celebrity Endorsements.” Or just because Plumb is one of my favorite artists. Ever.)

While I did request that Plumb-T wear her feathery wings from her “Send Angels” performance at Creation ’97, she is wearing feathery plumage on her head, so I guess that’ll do.  Beggars can’t be choosers after all.  But, seriously, how awesome is P-Tiff?  Yes, she’s *that* awesome!

I know I’m God’s beloved, but sometimes it’s nice to be “loved” by an artist who’s made an extreme difference in my life, too! I *heart* you, Plumb!

Friday Faves: Snow Globe Living Edition

2 Dec

I’ve been going back and forth on bringing back Friday Faves.  Am I ready?  What if I do it this Friday and not next Friday?  I mean, do I even have any readers left besides my mother? 

Then I thought, if you write it, they will come.

So I fooled around on Facebook for a while (yes, those games I used to think were stupid are highly addictive and somewhat entertaining), scoped out Thursday’s online deals, goofed around on Twitter, played some more Facebook games (The wheat needed to be harvested).  And here I am, staring at my computer screen thinking of all the great things I read, saw, and experienced this week.

How could I keep all this awesomeness to myself?  Why, that would be selfish!  I don’t know what’s going to happen next week or the week after or the week after, but I’m sure God does.  I’ll keep the future rightly in His hands and focus on the matter at hand—this week’s Friday Faves.

I seem to listen to a lot of music or read a lot of books—not usually at the same time, though occasionally my loves do intermingle.  Currently, I’m in a music phase and with so many exciting things happening in the industry (like the GRAMMY Award Nominations…congrats, everyone!), there is much to share.

*I can’t stop singing “Snow Globe” by Matt Wertz, even though I don’t know all (or most) of the lyrics.  Mostly, I just prance around singing, “Sometimes I wish I lived in snow globe,” mumble, and then pick it up again on the “la-la’s.”  Therefore, I need to share this song with y’all.  And, as luck would have it, Matt Wertz was kind enough to make an enchanting music video for us to enjoy together. (Amy’s note: Matt Wertz must be very secure in his masculinity to wear long-johns in that video!) 

I always wished I lived in a snow globe, and I’m glad I’m not alone.  I’m sure someone’s going to form a Facebook group about this very topic, and I’ll probably join in. But under no circumstances will I be appearing in any music videos in my PJ’s.  Some things are just private, know what I’m saying? You’ve got to be a good friend or family member to see me in my scrubby night duds. 

For a limited time, you can download “Snow Globe” along with his album 23 Places FOR FREE on NoiseTrade: GO DOWNLOAD IT!!!  And while you’re out there LEGALLY downloading music, hop over to your fave music buying site, and check out Matt’s brand spankin’ new-this-year Christmas album called…wait for it…SNOW GLOBE!!!  I only wish the album came with a FREE Matt Wertz snow globe.

But, wait, you can head over to Matt Wertz’s website and get your very own snow globe necklace for $40, complete with an 18” sterling silver chain.  Cute idea, but kind of pricey, especially since I have to assemble the mini-snow globe myself AAAND I prefer 22” chains.  Now you know what to get for the person who has everything—a snow globe necklace!

Only 5 BUCKS, baby!  Like dollars, not male deer!

*While we’re on the topic of legally purchasing music…have you checked out some of the $5 digital music downloads on Amazon lately?  The “regular” album choices for December are pretty paltry, but the special Christmas music section is great!  For ONLY five dollars, you can treat yourself to some of my favorite albums including Christmas Spirits by Straight No Chaser, Wintersong by Sarah MacLachlan, A Very Merry Christmas by Dave Barnes, Christmas by Rebecca St. James (which I got as a Christmas present in 1997.  I love this album!), and one of my most loved Christmas albums, Let It Snow Baby… Let It Reindeer by Relient K.  Since I already own this great music, I’m thinking of purchasing Mindy Smith’s My Holiday–what do you think?

Jillian Edwards = one of the many reasons I love Noise Trade!

*NoiseTrade co-founder Derek Webb (he sings, too!) wrote a tantalizing post this week about why he’d rather give his music away for free than allowing it to be streamed on Spotify.  Check out, “Giving It Away:  How Free Music Makes More Than Sense.”   I’m a habitual NoiseTrade download junkie.  I mean, what won’t I do for free music?  Plus, I can discover amazing musicians without feeling pressured by a publicist. (Darn my people-pleasing tendencies!)  In fact, I recently discovered Jillian Edwards on NoiseTrade, and I think you’ll love her!

I might wear Long-johns in a music video for a Kindle Fire…

*Because we’re all about the free, I mean, all about the music, I want to you how to get FREE MUSIC from Plumb!  Ever since Plumb released her first album when I was in high school, I’ve adored her and her music.  Well, you can download TWO Christmas songs when you like Plumb on Facebook, and then if you tell your friends about Plumb’s awesomeness, I mean, her music (and how could you not?), then you will be entered to win some cool prizes like a Kindle Fire (drool!), an iPod shuffle, Plumb-y gear, or a personalized profile pic of Tiffany holding a sign thanking you!!! (I want one of her thanking me while wearing the wings she wore while singing “Send Angels” at Creation ’97!)  Now I’ll refrain from entering this contest (probably) because I’ll blow you all out of the water with my gazillion Facebook friends.  I mean, it wouldn’t even a fair contest.  But I really, really, really want a pretty Kindle Fire, uh, I mean, the other prizes that aren’t a Kindle Fire.  Love, I mean, like Plumb on Facebook, download the songs (Plumb’s version of “What Child Is This” gave me chills.  Beautiful), and WIN [me a Kindle Fire]!

Wowser!  If I didn’t already own one of these…

*You know what makes a great Christmas present? Jason Gray’s latest album, A Way to See in the Dark!!!  Know what makes it better?  If Jason Gray personally autographed it!  Know what makes ME the best ever?!  I’m giving away a copy of that very autographed album for FREE!!!  All you have to do is enter!  Deets hereYou know you want to enter!

Welcome back, Friday Favers!  Hmm….we need to work on a better name for you guys. 

Who wouldn’t want to go sledding with an eReader?

Amy’s Update:  I just learned about another great deal…a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble for only $15 at SaveMore.com (This is my unique referral linkage, BTW.  I get $5 for every new person who signs up!)  Because I’m a first-time user, I got a $10 sign-up bonus, meaning that I can get my gift card for $5 (I think).  If not, I’m totally getting those Fandango tix (two tickets for $12, or rather $2 with my $10 bonus.  Woot!  I can see Breaking Dawn in theaters.  I mean, a mature adult movie that doesn’t involve werewolves and vampires.  Actually, your credit can only be applied to certain purchases and Fandango is not one of them.  Boo-hoo).  And in case you didn’t know, Barnes & Noble dot com has WAY cheaper books and like Amazon, they offer free shipping when on spends $25 or more. (I like to check out the after-Christmas sales at B&N to get pretty journals so I can write down my most private thoughts) Do the deal! (Take note that your gift card won’t be available until 12/12 or 12/13.)

Be honest–do you ever wish you lived in a snow globe?  Do you ever think you *do* live in a snow globe? (If so, I have a counseling degree; I  can help you.  Or at least run the peer support group!)  Would you wear an adult onesie in public, even if you were a TOTALLY famous musician like Matt Wertz?  Do you want to win a Kindle Fire?  Do you want to win ME a Kindle Fire?  Isn’t Plumb a fantastic dresser?  (If I dressed like her, I’d just look silly.)  Do you use Spotify?  NoiseTrade?  Buy a $5 Amazon album?  Breathe?  How is your Christmas shopping going thus far?  Are you thinking about getting a snow globe necklace for anyone on your list?

GIVEAWAY!!! Jason Gray’s “Remind Me Who I Am” is #1 on iTunes!

30 Nov

Wednesdays are killer, right?  Last weekend is a distant memory and this weekend seems like it will never arrive.  And to make matters worse, we’re in the holiday season—shopping, decorating, baking, avoiding Salvation Army bell ringers. I love the Salvation Army and all they do, but I could do without the bell ringers.  I wish you could give them $20 to stop ringing the bell for five minutes or at least until you make it to the car.

But this morning whilst performing my daily ritual of checking out what happened in the cyber world as  I slumbered, I learned something VERY EXCITING from Jen RoseJason Gray’s single, “Remind Me Who I Am” is #1 on the Christian & Gospel charts on iTunes!  Now “Remind Me Who I Am” will always be one of my favorite songs because of the impact it had (and continues to have) on my life,  so I would love to see it get stay at #1. (Note: I like Casting Crowns’ “Courageous” and Laura Story’s “Blessings,” too.  But neither song has hit me in the heart like “Remind Me Who I Am”).

Did you hear *that*, er, read *that?!  I’ll type it in CAPS for emphasis:

JASON GRAY’S “REMIND ME WHO I AM” IS CURRENTLY #1!!!

Personally, I believe you should buy “Remind Me Who I Am” because it’s a great song AND it’s only 69 cents on iTunes, but to help you in your music buying decision, I’m gonna back up this song with a  giveaway.  If you purchase “Remind Me Who I Am” on iTunes, you will get a chance to win an autographed copy of Jason Gray’s latest album, A Way to See in the Dark (and, yes, this is the album “Remind Me Who I Am” is on!) 

Maybe you already own the song or just can’t afford it right now, that’s OK.  I would never exclude anyone from a giveaway.  So everyone gets one entry, BUUUUUUT, if you buy the single on iTunes or gift the single to friends with an identity crisis, you get TWO extra entries for EACH purchase, and if you review the song on iTunes (I’m talking at least two sentence here, not “This song rocketh.” Put a little meat in that review), you get another TWO entries.  That means, you get ONE entry just for being alive, and TWO entries if you buy the song for yourself and TWO more if you leave a review of “Remind Me Who I Am” on iTunes, which gives you SIX chances to win!  (Or if you enter and buy the song for your Aunt Mabel, you have EIGHT your chance of winning A Way to See in the Dark!)

I funkified the photo because it looked subpar due to my messy desk background.

Just fill out THE FORM, tell me how many copies of “Remind Me Who I Am” you purchased on iTunes, write a smashing review, and [hopefully] win!  Remember, you get an entry just for being alive, so everyone can enter, but only one can win.  I mean, maybe I can get Jason Gray to send each one of you a hair follicle or something (by the way, JG did not ask me to run this contest, but I watched him personally autograph the CD, so he has foreknowledge that a giveaway would happen!)

Here are some links in REALLY BIG LETTERS to help you:

1. Buy “Remind Me Who I Am” by Jason Gray for 69 cents. 

(Or don’t and enter anyway.  But you get TWO extra entries for each copy of the song you purchase. (You’re on the honor system.  I mean, I love this song, but if you tell me you purchased 109 copies, I’m going to need to see that iTunes receipt.)

2.  Write a short, but meaningful review of “Remind Me Who I Am” on iTunes for another TWO entries.

(By the way, you can review the song without buying it on iTunes, so by being alive AND writing a review, you can get THREE entries.)

3. Then enter to win an authographed copy of the WHOLE album, A Way to See in the Dark by Jason Gray, right here!  I’m instituing use of THE FORM!

*FILL OUT THIS FORM*

The giveaway ends at 11:59 PM EST on December 7, so you have a whole week to snag this deal.  The winner will be emailed and if he/she does not respond within 3 days, a new winner will be chosen.  I am not responsible for prizes that are lost by the USPS, though it would be very sad and I would cry with you should that occur.  Oh, and if you buy more copies of “Remind Me Who I Am” or decide to write a review AFTER you’ve already entered do come back and tell me so I can give you even more extra entries.

Even if you don’t win this amazing album, and I hope you do, you still win by getting a copy of “Remind Me Who I Am” by Jason Gray.  And I do encourage you to purchase A Way to See in the Dark, for it is a phenomenal album…and it makes a great Christmas present! (I heard Aunt Mabel really wants a copy!)

Still not sure about the song?  Read WHY Jason Gray wrote “Remind Me Who I Am,” find out why I’m thankful for Jason Gray, and read a little about how “Remind Me Who I Am” has helped me (though I only mention the song as an afterthought, I realize it really helped me to come to terms with my identity in God and inspired this post). Learn more about Jason Gray and his awesome self at JasonGrayMusic.com.

Amy’s Random Aside:  I believe in Jason Gray and his music so much that I changed my Twiticon and my Facebook profile pictures to “Remind Me Who I Am.” (I added “Beloved” to the Facebook pic because Amy means “beloved.”)  If you just love Jason, his music, or what people to remind you who you are, email me and I’ll change your Twitter or Facebook book to look similar to mine. (Text may be different.  We are all unique creatures.)

(Click on my image to follow me on Twitter for tantalizing updates!)

OR


(Feel free to friend me on Facebook, too!)

Tell me, once again, why you like this song, why you like this song? (Sing that to the chorus of “Remind Me Who I Am”)  How have you deal with a spiritual identity crisis?  Jason Gray has great hair, so why do you think he’s wearing that hat in the music video for “Remind Me Who I Am”?  Do you recycle your cardboard boxes, make signs from them, or just throw them out in the regular trash?

I’m thankful for two Jason’s and a Josh!

23 Nov

A musician’s life isn’t easy.  Just because musicians are doing what they love, crafting music is a job just like any other.  First, there’s the writing process—lyric after lyric, chord progression after chord progression, organizing the percussion, changing up vocals.  Then comes the recording process, which is more organization, changing, and take after endless take.  Production is next and these days, a lot of artists like to help with the fine tuning of their final sound.  When the album is finally released, artists endure a media blitz—three hours of 15-30 minutes phone interviews with various journalists, week-long tours to various radio stations to hype up the new album, and the album release show!  Then it’s up to you to buy the album, which hopefully you do—if it’s good.  And if it’s not, boy, do the reviewers go to town!  (Amy’s note:  It’s not easy being a reviewer either!)

Then there’s touring.  Think about it—to come to a concert in your city, an artist or band has to travel to the venue (by plane or bus/van), set up equipment, eat whatever the venue is serving (if the venue is serving anything), perform, spend time with the fans, do the media thing, pack up, get about six hours of sleep, and do it all again the next day. Plus, a lot of artists are dealing with time away from their families, friends, and other support systems (church, small group, etc.)  Wouldn’t it be nice if we turned down the music on our stereos and thanked the people who create the background music of our lives?  It’s not just a “nice idea,” I believe it is necessary to pray for and encourage our artistic friends, so I’m going to start with the musicians who add so much flavor to my spiritual journey. (Also, please pray for me as I seek more ways to be an encouragement to musicians.)

To start, I’d like to call out some of God’s humble servants for cyber applause (iClaps?).

I am so, so, so thankful for my friend, Josh Wilson.  A lot of times, I have a great interview with a musician, maybe exchange a few emails or Tweets, and move on to the next interview.  But Josh and I just hit it off, so I began praying for him every day.  Then he got engaged, so I started praying for his sweetie every day, too.  I’m sure if/when Josh and Becca have kids, I’ll pray for the Wilson brood.

Through praying, emailing, interviewing, a few side projects here and there, and hanging out with Josh at a couple of shows, I have found not only a man who truly loves God, but a great friend as well.  If you’ve been reading Backseat Writer, then you know how much I adore Josh’s music.  He’s a musical and lyrical dynamo, whose talent is rare these days.  I am constantly amazed at the articulation of Josh’s songs and the hard work he puts into challenging himself to craft original material.

A true musical genius, man of God, and genuinely wonderful person—I’m thankful for you, Josh Wilson!

Over the past few months, I’ve shared about how Jason Gray’s album, A Way to See in the Dark has impacted my life.  I even told you that I met Jason Gray a few weeks ago at a concert and got signed CDs (one for me, one for you.  The giveaway is coming soon…I promise).  What I didn’t tell you is this—Jason Gray was truly a delight to meet, to chat with, and to banter with on Twitter.  Plus, he’s really tall and looks like an elf.  As you know, I have an affinity for elves (I stole that line from the movie, Elf).

Apparently, Jason has a stuttering problem—something that he’s struggled with since he was but a wee lad.  I didn’t notice it when we chatted one-on-one (actually, four-on-four since BFF Sarah and Jason German from downhere were also in on the conversation), but it was evident from the stage.  He informed the audience that he stutters and that he wasn’t “freaking out” on the stage.  Then he went on to talk and sing about the glories of God.  While Jason could’ve let his speech impediment hold him back, God just gave Jason a bigger platform in which to communicate…and I’m thankful.  Because if Jason let the voice of doubt overtake his life, I wouldn’t have “Remind Me Who I Am”—a song which hit me so powerfully that I was gasping for breath between sobs and moans.  That song was my undoing, the instrument God used to break open my heart.  I am thankful for you, Jason Gray, for your boldness, your reading recommendations, and your music.

Image from RadarRadio.net

When I met Jason, he was on the “Called to Love” tour with Aaron Shust and downhere.  When BFF Sarah and I were sitting in the “green room” waiting for various musicians to appear (really I was waiting for Jason Gray because I was excited to meet him and tell him how much I loved his album), a man in his late 30’s wearing dark clothes and a longish coat strolled in.  He greeted us and kindly asked, “And what is your part in this production?”

“I’m just here to make awkward conversation,” I asked with a smirk.  This was the “right” answer because it resulted in further banter.  Later I found out that I was talking to “Jason G” from downhere.  I assumed he was the bass player. (He looked like a bass player to me.)

Admittedly, I was ignorant of downhere’s music until that night when their live performance blew me away.  Imagine my surprise when I watched Jason Germain make a piano sing by tickling a few keys!  When I gushed to Jason Gray over his album, Jason G remarked, “It is a really good album.  I’ve been listening to it a lot lately, too.”  Then he thoughtfully quoted a line from one of Jason’s song.   I even told Jason G that I really liked the band’s Christmas album (which I do), but haven’t listened to much of their music.  He was not offended in the least and appreciated the attention his tour mate was receiving.   Even when I accidentally called his band “downthere,” Jason G did not bat an eyelash.  This man’s humility and kindness spoke volumes to me.

Not only am I thankful for downhere, I am grateful to Jason Germain to introducing me to “the band” just by engaging in awkward conversation with a couple of gals in Pennsylvania.  I am thankful for you, Jason Germain!

What musician or band are you thankful for?  And just why are you thankful for your musician/band?  Any song or album that you’re grateful for?  Share it here or on Twitter (use “#thankamusician” so we can start a movement!)

Take 5 with Jenny & Tyler (Music)

26 May

When I first heard Jenny & Tyler, I was feeling overwhelmed by the bland music surrounding me.  Jenny & Tyler’s smooth vocals, fresh lyrics, and folk/pop style instantly excited me.  There was an unexplainable synergy between the duo and I picked up on that immediately.  Jenny (of Jenny & Tyler) shares about the duo’s latest album, Faint Not, in this Take 5. (Learn about how to download the single “Faint Not” for free at the end of the interview.)

You two have such great synergy as a musical duo (and I would imagine as a married couple.)  I could really see it in the music videos for “Faint Not” and “This is Just So Beautiful.”  How does your relationship add to the dynamic of your music/songwriting?

I think part of what’s fun about writing and making music together is that we’re comfortable being completely honest with each other. We also know each other really well and sometimes that helps when one of us is having difficulty communicating a specific emotion or feeling. When one of us is stumped lyrically or musically the other can usually pick up and finish the song.

When we perform together (or shoot videos together!) it’s easy to just completely be ourselves. The audience or the listener picks up on that. When you’re being genuine, people can tell. And when you’re not, they can tell too.

My favorite song on Faint Not is (all of them) “Carry Me” (And who’s the guy singing in the background?  Is he supposed to signify the voice of God?)

I’m so glad you like “Carry Me”. It was written from a desperate place. One morning I was feeling really overwhelmed by my sin. In that same moment I was reminded of how big God’s grace is. The best part is that the Lord doesn’t grow weary in forgiving us. The “voice of God” is Mac Powell from Third Day. We had the opportunity to open for him a few years back and when we were writing the bridge Tyler said, “You know who would be perfect for this part?” and we just knew he should sing it. His voice is so strong and really powerful. I think it worked out pretty well.

Another incredibly powerful song is “Song For You.” (Seriously, wow!) What prompted you to write this song?

“Song for You” is about the stubborn love of God and how it pursues us before we know Him or before we want it too. We actually wrote five choruses to the song before we settled on the current one.  Honestly, the song wasn’t inspired about a specific moment; we just wanted to communicate how amazing the love of God is, both in how he feels and his actions. He’s done everything he has to do to bring us to Him, namely in Jesus. The ball is in our court so to speak.

What has been the best part of your musical journey?  The worst part?

The best part is doing this together. Neither of us would want to tour the country and make music alone. When one of us is feeling weak or discouraged the other is able to pick up the slack.

The worst part of our musical journey is being on the road and missing our community. We love meeting new people and traveling, but we do miss our Nashville family when we’re away.

And now onto a lighter question, what was the last book you read? (And did you like it?)

Tyler read and thoroughly enjoyed Desiring God by John Piper. I read Little Bee by Chris Cleave. To be honest, it was a bit disappointing.

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Because Jenny & Tyler and Mixtus Media are awesome, they are offering a FREE SONG DOWNLOAD from Faint Not for Backseat Writer’s readers (that’s you!) To download the album’s title track, “Faint Not,” click the “Faint Not” logo below. You will be taken to another site for download.  No worries.  It is not run by James or his associates.

Undoubtedly, after hearing this fantastic track, you’re going to want to buy the whole album, which you can do at their website, JennyandTylerMusic.com.  Additionally, if you are so enamored with Jenny & Tyler, that you want to become a J&T super fan, then follow them on Twitter and friend them on Facebook.

Owl City talks about new single “Galaxies” from ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL releasing June 14

28 Apr

In this clip, Owl City’s Adam Young talks about his new song, “Galaxies,” which is ripping up the Christian radio charts.  His highly anticipated new album, All Things Bright and Beautiful will be released on June 14.   By the way, you can purchase the song “Galaxies” on iTunes right now (click here) which might be able to hold you over until the album’s full release in June.  After the video, you can read all about Owl City’s new album, including tour information!

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From The Media Collective–Owl City is back after a long cold winter with a new full-length studio album, All Things Bright And Beautiful,  due out June 14 Worldwide on Universal Republic. Produced by Owl City’s Adam Young and recorded at Sky Harbor Studios in Owatonna, MN, All Things Bright And Beautiful features twelve new songs and was mixed by Young along with Grammy Award-winning engineer and producer Jack Joseph Puig whose credits include Beck, Mary J. Blige, Green Day and John Mayer to name a few.

All Things Bright And Beautiful is the follow-up full-length studio album to Owl City’s platinum-selling debut Ocean Eyes. Released in July 2009, Ocean Eyes was certified platinum in just eight short months and earned Owl City a slew of critical acclaim (New York Times, Rolling Stone, People, Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, etc.). Ocean Eyes’ sales were led by the runaway single “Fireflies” which is currently quadruple platinum in the US. “Fireflies” hit #1 on the Hot 100 twice and found its way to the #1 spot in 24 countries around the world – making this a huge International hit song and leading to several sold out worldwide tours – keeping Owl City on the road for over a year and a half.

About how music and his faith merge, Young says, “Music is something that is fused to who I am. It allows me to breathe deeply, it lets me feel, imagine, aspire and dream in the most beautiful ways imaginable. Music is something that I can’t imagine living without, and though it means more to me than the world itself, there is something that weighs significantly heavier on the scale of all things valuable and important in my life, that being my relationship with Jesus Christ.” Continuing he says, “I am an artist, that’s what I do. Creating art has been my dream since elementary school, it’s the only thing I’m good at and looking back on the years, I am left breathless, completely and utterly bereft of speech at how the Lord has chosen to use music in my life and what I do as Owl City.”

In support of the new album – All Things Bright And Beautiful – Owl City will be kicking off a headlining tour of the World in North America on June 13th at the historic Ryman Auditorium. For the most up-to-date information and tour dates, please visit www.owlcitymusic.com.

Tell me, who’s excited about All Things Bright And Beautiful?  What do you think about Adam Young’s boldness in talking about his Christian faith?  And does “Fireflies” still make you dance around in a giddy fashion?

An Open Letter to the Gospel Music Association

18 Feb

Dear GMA (Gospel Music Association),

For years, I’ve watched the Dove Awards with interest.  When I was a teenager, I eagerly devoured your suggestions on artists.  But I’ve become increasingly dissatisfied with your “product.”  It seems like good artists get ignored while the same musicians keep getting awards, not necessarily for producing amazing albums, but for producing lucrative products.  I can deal with this. It’s your prerogative to do with the Dove Awards as you see fit.

Just so you know, those in the industry secretly call GMA Week “Give Me Attention Week.”  Perhaps a week is a little self-indulgent.  While good efforts certainly deserve recognition, maybe you’re taking things a little too far.  Extravagance has a price. And just how much do you spend on the week anyway?

This year for the 42nd Annual Dove Awards, you’ve chosen “The View’s” Sherri Shepherd to be your emcee.  I applaud you for choosing to a plump, women of color. That’s about all I applaud you for.

Surely you have seen some of the questionable comments that Shepherd has made on “The View” or even caught her recurring role on “30 Rock.”  While I know that Shepard says that she’s a Christian, I do find some of her statements, and particularly her roles questionable.  Sure, she’s a funny comedienne (if that’s your kind of humor).  Yet this is Christian music’s “biggest nights” (at least that’s what your advertisements say year after year).

While you hold your heads high as the purveyors of what is the best in Christian music and who deserves an award, know that your opinion is just that–your opinion.  Clearly, picking someone like Shepherd is a ratings booster for a program that you hope goes more mainstream.  I fear that you’re less concerned with praising musicians who honor God with their music and more concerned about your bottom line–making (and spending) money.

It’s your show and you can choose whoever you want to be the emcee.  Just know that your opinions are not important to me anymore.  I will congratulate the artists who receive a Dove Award, as it is still an honor for the artist.  But know that my respect for the GMA as a whole–your week and your awards ceremony–has been exhausted.

Sincerely,

A Former Christian Music Enthusiast

Update: Upon further reflection, I’ve decided to boycott the Dove Awards.  I’m only one little voice, so I doubt anyone will care.  But it makes me feel proactive!  And to think, it used to be my dream to go to the Dove Awards in a pretty dress as some musician’s arm candy.  Those days are SO over!

Music Review:: See You by Josh Wilson

8 Feb

If music is the universal language, then Josh Wilson is a master linguist.  Once again, Wilson produces a delectable masterpiece with his latest studio release, See You.  The album’s title track, “See You,” talks about “seeing” the hands of God, even when they’re not evident in the life’s mire.  The whole album, really, is about seeing God whether in the beauty of a new marriage, the devastation of a divorce, in the streets of India, or even in our own unbelief.  Wilson takes the concept of seeing and provides a full emotional experience that is joyful, worshipful, gentle, heartbreaking, wild, and even playful.

From the first track “Sing It,” a rallying cry to worship, to the last (a reprise of “Sing It”), See You is a fully developed album.  Each song exists as a defining moment, yet one melody gives way to the next pulling See You’s narrative along.  “I Refuse,” the album’s first single, shows that inaction is unacceptable, calling listeners to make a positive mark on society.  The poppy and playful “Always Only You” is a love song for Wilson’s wife Becca while “Behind the Beauty” calls us back to the idea of “seeing” what God has created.

Something magical happens when Josh Wilson weaves word with sound and the result is See You, an album I cannot more highly recommend.

Amy’s Rating: 5/5

For the month of February, you can download Josh Wilson’s self-titled album for a mere $5 on Amazon.com.  Get it here!

Also, stop back later this week to read my interview with Josh Wilson about See You, working with producer Matt Bronlewee, and glockenspiels.

*Thanks to The Media Collective for my review copy of this album!*

Hitchhiking with singer/songwriter Bebo Norman

21 Sep

It was with great anxiety and distress I awaited Bebo Norman’s scheduled phone call the morning after Labor Day.  Normally, I’m not like this, but then again, it’s not every day that I get to interview one of the singer/songwriters who has been so influential in my life.  The phone rang and I said a silent prayer, “Hello?”

“Hi, Amy.  It’s Bebo Norman.” Suddenly, everything was OK.  Disarming me with his quiet charm and easy-going nature, Bebo Norman is by all accounts a gentleman—one of the many reasons the man and his music have become so dear to me since I picked up his first album in 1996 as a mere teenager.

In this, my second interview with Bebo Norman, I decided to let you into our candid, and often, amusing conversation as we talk about our battles with anxiety, Bebo’s life, and of course, his new album, Ocean, releasing on BEC Recordings on September 28.

Amy: So, in celebration of your new album, do you have a favorite ocean?  I mean, there are seven of them.

Bebo: Ah. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Atlantic or the Pacific, but I haven’t spent time in the other oceans.  So I’ve have to go with those.  How ‘bout you?  Do you have a favorite ocean?

Amy: Probably the Atlantic or the Pacific.  I mean, my best friend fell into the Pacific Ocean off a small boat, so I’d have to go with that.  It’s hard to say, it’s like trying to pick a favorite star.

Bebo: I understand.  I’ve never tried to pick a favorite star, but there are so many to choose from.

We chat a bit about sea creatures, including the beauty of humpback whales.  I also learn that Bebo’s been on several cruises to Alaska and that Matthew West lives three blocks away.  I tell him that Matthew West’s new album is really great and he says that he hasn’t heard it.

Bebo: I tend to not be up to date on music.  Isn’t that ridiculous?

Amy: That’s hilarious!  I love that!

Bebo: I have to kind of disappear from music sometimes just to keep my head straight because it’s what I do, it’s my job, and it’s what I love.  I have to have some space.

Amy: Sometimes I get all these new releases and I’m like, “This is all crap and I hate it!” So I have to pop in something good and solid like Bebo Norman or Rich Mullins so I can remember what good music sounds like.

Bebo: I think that’s part of my problem.  I’ve always listened to music because it inspires me and what’s frustrating is that sometimes you listen to music and none of it inspires you, you start to think that no music will inspire you

Amy: I know!  It’s scary because I think, “What if people think my writing is this bad?”

Bebo: That’s part of the insecurity of being a creative person.  Every single songwriter writer, musician, journalist, I know has that same fear or thought.

Amy: Speaking of writing, you said that writing an album is like an extended therapy session.  I’ve been in therapy sessions and they’re very painful sometimes.  So, what is it like for you?

Bebo: It’s very painful, very painful, and it’s very beautiful.  It’s a cathartic process, which is the beauty of writing.  I didn’t start as a songwriter because I had any intention of playing songs for anybody.  When I started writing songs, it was just an extension of me trying to process life.  I found that, for me, whether it was poetry or songs it was the best way I could process things.

I wrote short stories and poetry before I started writing songs, but the combination of music and words is a pretty powerful and sort of inspiring thing.  That’s what caught me the most about songwriting.  I could write a poem or I could hear a piece of music and both of those things would be beautiful, but when they’re together there’s something magical and powerful that happens.

In ways, it’s the only way I really know how to process life.  It forces me to sit down and be quiet, and still and reflective and internal.  The busyness of life, especially these days, with touring and my family, my wife and kids, and my community here in Nashville—sitting down and being quiet—it’s hard to find those days.

Not to mention, if you do struggle with anxiety or those things when you get down and depressed, even when you do have those days where you can sit down and be quiet those struggles can sometimes steal the life out of those moments.  Writing songs is a very grounding thing for me.  That’s the same way therapy is—you’re forced to sit down with your thoughts and expose things that might not otherwise get exposed.

Amy: Some of the things I would talk about in therapy, I would not like to release to the world.  You said that an album is the best 60 minutes out of two years of your life, but still, sometimes it’s painful to hear.

Bebo: I’ve always struggled with laying out things that are personal and intimate.  Now that I’ve got a wife and two boys, there’s a certain level of caution to where I have to consider how what I put out there affects the people around me.

To me, everything I experience is fair game for a song.  I used to really struggle with the fear of laying those things out there.  Maybe I’m just old enough at this point or I’ve just been doing it long enough that now I’m not consumed with the perception might be wrong or right.  It’s more a matter of this is where I am and this is what I’m struggling with and I’m certain there are other people that are dealing with similar things, if not the same thing, and it’s important for these things to be spoken.  As believers, we think we’re not spiritual enough if we struggle with certain things.

Amy: Thank you for sharing that.  There are a lot of songs I want to talk about, but we don’t have time.  Let’s just plunge right into your favorite song, “The Middle,” which is also my favorite song.  I was listening to it last night and I was crying because I was feeling like that song is my life right now.  I’m not married, I don’t have kids, and I feel like my life is this middle of not where I was and not there yet.  Or maybe our lives here on planet earth are the middle.  I don’t know.

Bebo: I think you tapped into something there. There’s a reality that our lives in their current state are the middle.  We’re never fully home and our faith is never fully realized until the day Jesus calls us home or comes back.

Here’s the thing, when I say “the middle,” it may not mean the middle of life.  It happened to me when I was in college, and again in my 20’s, and again in my 30’s.  As static as they may feel at times, our lives are always in transition.  I revel in the idea of transition; the real struggle for me is when I’m stuck in between transition.  That’s where this song comes from, like, “Where am I right now in the middle of these things? I don’t feel like I’m moving.”  Like you mentioned a minute ago, you feel stuck and you’re in this place where you’re not quite sure where things are going and where they’ve been.

It’s not a song about being middle-aged.  I feel like we’re always in the state of being in the middle.  When we’re on this earth, we’re always in the middle and we’re always going to be stuck between our flesh and our spirit here.

Amy: You had this goal that you were going to write one blog post a day…what happened?

Bebo: It was way too ambitious a goal, and I knew that!  But those are the only kind of goals I know how to set—one that’s too ambitious

Amy: I told you that in your comments section, not that you listened.

Bebo: I even said in the first blog post that I will mostly likely fail at this and what I mean is that, I will fail at this.  But I really did want to go for it.  I have a dear friend who wrote a new song every day for one year of his life.  He said that 90% of the songs weren’t that special, but it taught him what the day had brought him. That’s kind of what I was hoping for with the whole blog thing.  I can’t just write a blog and say, “I took the kids to school and I slept late.”  There has to be some thought in it.  The reality of the busyness of life at this point; it just wasn’t even possible.  I could have sat down and written it, but it would have been at the expense of the people I love.

Amy: Well, that would have been utterly ridiculous!

Bebo: But it was a lesson learned.  That would be a good entry in and of itself—to talk about how it started taking it away from the people in front of me to appease a group of people I don’t even know, which is the real danger of social networking.  That’s why I failed miserably at it.  Well, that sounds too noble.  Actually there were too many days I didn’t feel about it.

I give Bebo some expert blogging advice, which he recognized from his comments section.  I tell him that he ignored my comments because I’m a “girl.” Then we talk about how guys always think girls want to hit on them.  I tell him that his recent blog, “Idols of Misdirection” was excellent and seemed to go with one of the songs on his new album called “Could You Ever Look at Me.”  Bebo keeps talking, even though I’m keenly aware that he is going to be five minutes late calling his next interviewer.

Amy: One last question—how can we be praying for Bebo Norman?

Bebo: A lot of what I was writing about in that blog post (“Idols of Misdirection”) is probably what I would ask people to pray for me right now, and that is being thankful for the source of the good things in my life.  I’m in a season of struggling with that.  There’s a certain level of distance I feel right now from God, which is odd because I talk about my faith a lot.  It’s not that I doubt the truth of the Gospel because I see it fulfilled as truth every single day.  I feel like it’s robbing me of the beauty of every day.

To catch up with Bebo Norman, visit him online at BeboNorman.com, follow him on Twitter (@bebonorman), and read his blog, which he updates sometimes.

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